O’Neill High School Band Participants

Pictured front row (l-r): Alyssa Fehringer, Sydney Zahm and James Krotter. Back row: Andrew Alder, Christopher Laursen, Sam Carstens and William Otte. 

LINCOLN — Six local youth from O’Neill Public High School were among 259 high school students from across Nebraska who participated in the 25th Annual Masonic All-Star Marching Band, which performed Saturday, June 1, during Shrine Bowl festivities in Kearney. 

OHS participates were: Andrew Alder, son of Chris and Kelly Alder; Samuel Carstens, son of Curt and Lisa Carstens; Alyssa Fehringer, daughter of Andy and Brandi Fehringer; James Krotter, son of Joe and Ann Krotter; Christopher Laursen, son of Christopher and Jennifer Laursen; and William Otte, son of Matthew and Ranell Otte.

OHS band alumni Sydney Zahm was a band assistant again this year. 

“At the end of the day when your calves ache from marching, your skin is oily from sunscreen and you are so tired you barely make it to bed, Masonic is always worth it. You gain lifetime friends, hear amazing talents and get to work with some awesome kids,” she said. 

The band members devoted four days of intense practice starting May 28 to learn the music, marching steps and field formations. The band gave their first public performance with a public concert at Harmon Park on Friday evening, May 31. The band led the Shrine Bowl Parade down Kearney’s Central and First Avenue on Saturday morning, June 1 and it also performed the pre-game National Anthem and during half-time of the 61st Annual Shrine Bowl football game at Ron & Carol Cope Stadium, on Foster Field at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. 

The band members were hosted by the Masons of Nebraska and were directed by Brad Weber, retired band director from Wayne High School, currently instructor of percussion at Wayne State College (WSC); Dan Sodomka, band director at Aurora High School; and Dr. Dave Bohnert, director of bands at WSC. 

Alder received a scholarship from George W Lininger No. 268; Carstens received a scholarship from Blazing Star Lodge No. 200; Fehringer received a scholarship from Blazing Star Lodge No. 200; Krotter received a scholarship from Blazing Star Lodge No. 200; Laursen received a scholarship from Albert Pike Lodge No. 333; and Otte received a scholarship from Ruth Chapter OES No. 119. The scholarships covered the cost of the camp.

“We demanded a lot of the students during the past week,” Weber said. “They responded professionally and worked very hard. That was evident by the high-quality shows they performed Friday and Saturday. There’s no doubt these young musicians are among the best in the state.”

Coupled with hard work, the members also enjoyed evening activities consisting of a night of free time and music on the football field, bowling at Big Apple Fun Center and a dance. Many are looking forward to the opportunity to use the instruction provided by the band directors when they return to their respective high school bands.

“The band members worked hard during the week preparing for the Shrine Bowl performances,” said Bob Moninger, Grand Master of Nebraska Masons. “They also had a lot of fun meeting new people and enjoyed the activities, but they also understand the main reason for the long hours and hard work. Patients at the Shriners Hospitals for Children will benefit the most from the band’s efforts this past week. We sincerely appreciate their contribution to raise awareness and funds to enable the Shriners to help even more children.” 

“Masonic lodges across Nebraska support local youth and community projects, humanitarian efforts including a child identification program, academic scholarships, and efforts to support our military,” Moninger said. “At the statewide level, the Grand Lodge helps to maintain two homes: The Nebraska Masonic Home at Plattsmouth for Masons and their female relatives, and the Masonic-Eastern Star Home for Children in Fremont. The combined philanthropic efforts of Masonic-related organizations amount to more than $2 million a day.” 

Freemasonry is the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world and is based on the lessons of living a life of brotherhood and high moral standards as portrayed symbolically in the work of stone masons who built the cathedrals, abbeys and castles of Europe.

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